The study found that students who said they had used Flakka the previous year, 19.2% had used more than 40 times. Those who used to be aware were more likely to live with their parents and used other medications.
"The importance is that we can draw attention to this dangerous drug at this time," Palamar said. "Finally we have prevalence estimates in a national sample, which has not yet been done."
However, even more people could have used flakka without necessarily knowing it.
"I think a lot of people are using without realizing, especially users of ecstasy, Molly's users," he said.
Other experts agree.
The stimulant, which Castellanos said was "the cocaine of the poor", led to 80 deaths only in Florida between September 2014 and December 2015, according to the new study. There were 2,000 visits from the emergency department related to their use in Broward County during this period; 15% were people under 25 years of age. One of the youngest, according to the research, was 13 years old.
Flakka, also known as gravel, is in the class of new psychoactive substances, said Castellanos. Some related products are called bath salts. You can smoke, inject or blow.
"Although they are not like the salts of their tub, they seem sometimes," he said. "These are all new psychoactive substances, which means they are manufactured chemically, they import, there are several variations, there are different spikes and shoots over time."
Flakka is also a stimulant. "It really puts a lot of people, very hectic," said Castellanos. "This includes things like stirring, effects on all typical body systems, increased blood pressure, dust, sometimes even temperature."
"What really stands out about the flakka is the uncomfortable behavior that is sometimes related to its use," Palamar said. "It's weird, and you'll see that word, even in medical journals, because there's no other way to describe".
Although not all people who use the medication have these reactions, Palamar still warned of its use.
"This is one thing to know: it does not have this effect on who uses it," he said. "It's a very dangerous drug, it's a very powerful drug. It's as powerful as methamphetamine."
Journalist Carina Storrs has contributed to this report.